Monday, October 29, 2012

Winterbourne View, take 2

So shunting people from one hospital warehouse where they are abused to another doesn't work. What a surprise - and what a tragedy for those people that the 'powers that be' thought it would.  Panorama's second take on what happened to the people abused at Winterbourne is being screened this week.  Look out for it.

My sympathies to the people and families who've been let down yet again.  This has to get better.  These are real people not an abstract issue.  Yes we need to stop it happening again to others - but we also need to make sure that these victims and their families get a good placement with a decent quality of life.  Where is CQC in this?  It should have been actively preventative of further abuse.  Reacting to another 'safeguarding alert' isn't enough.

Making the case for complex care

An interesting piece of research just published about what works for people with complex care needs. It makes what may be the obvious points - that person centered plans work, multidiciplinary teams and intensive interaction are vital, that continuity of social workers involvement etc. is needed, that transition from childrens to adult services is complicated.  These may seem obvious to those of us who've lived the system, but no matter how much lip service commissioners etc. pay to the value of these things, they're exactly the things that aren't there.

The value of this research is that it makes respectable, something we all know - we now have something we can quote back at commissioners who only provide 'generic' social work, who won't put the resources in to provide intensive interaction, who see person centered planning as the first and easiest line of cuts.

I don't pretend it will solve the issues.  But like the 'Raising our Sights' report, it gives what we've been saying all along a 'respectable father' to quote.  We still have to make the case.  Hope you find it helpful.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

If it works, break it

Today I got angry - and then had to calm down.  I was at a meeting with officials, carers, 'providers' etc. where we were ambushed by the council who want to cut the most valuable services specialist services we have.  These are very small scale (in staff terms) specialists in Person Centred Planning and Leisure and Recreation (getting a life) Services.  They were originally employed as a pilot, and succeeded enormously in making sure people with learning disabilities actually got Person Centred Plans and actually got access to swimming pools etc. as well as specialist 'recreational' services - things like trampolining physio.  We still had to pay for them, but they were there and they were accessible.

But now the penny pinching cutters want to stop these as the 'temporary' funding is running out.  It's an easy cut because it isn't part of their 'recurring budget'.  And they want it cut despite all the evidence that it's worked and that it's the most valued by carers and service users, service the council actually provide locally.  Attempts were made to railroad us and silence criticism of the way they tried to run what should have been a 'Partnership' meeting.

Surely, if the carers and service users find these services valuable, that should count for a lot.  But in the world of cuts, they don't care what works, what's valuable.  They just want the overspend caused by their own unrealistically low budget reduced.  They haven't cut these formally yet - that's due early next year - this is to soften us up.  What it's actually doing is creating antagonism and opposition.

Rant not yet over.

PS all cuts in the context of benefit cuts through PIP (Personal Independence Payments - don't you just hate the George Orwell type name)  about to take £28 to £70 a week off these most vulnerable people.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Abuse and neglect

Abuse of vulnerable people seems to be the order of the day for news at all levels just now.  Nationally there's the 'Savile stuff', but locally we have Bolton council apologising for the physical abuse of people with learning disabilities in one of their care homes with two 'carers' (not really) jailed for things like restraint by tying towels over people's faces and also near Morcambe, six staff arrests at an elderly care home.

Yet in all these, where is CQC?  They seem to be making comments after the event, mainly saying they were monitoring the situation.  What good is monitoring if it doesn't lead to action to prevent abuse?  Fear of abuse in care is a major terror for parents of people with disabilities.  We're fairly sure our son was treated well, but without our constant vigilance and driving of the agenda, things could so easily have been different.  I have a real fear that without constant vigilance, abuse or neglect can become the default setting - especially when cuts are reducing the level of care input.  Where there is no responsible and transparent leadership, the back room bullies take over.

I don't feel I have confidence in CQC to prevent abuse and neglect, tick boxes aren't the answer.  So the only alternative is for carers and families to police the standards of care, with all the help we can get from staff whistle blowers with a conscience.  Another parent I knew, when asked by Social Services what single thing he could do to ensure his son was well looked after, replied, survive for as long as I can.  I can empathize with that.

Watch for the signs of abuse and neglect - and ask questions when you think you see them.  No one else is going to do it.  It isn't a nice thing and it won't make you popular, but it's better than letting the abuse happen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It may be inhumane but it isn't news anymore

I don't intend to comment much on this Guardian report of a lady with learning disabilities being classed as 'fit for work' by ATOS.  Suffice it to say, my view is that this is just another example of how unfit for purpose and discredited the new disability tests are and how incompetent and inhumane ATOS is at implementing them.  Unfortunately this is becoming standard practice rather than news.  I'll make my own noises to local politicians, suggest you do the same.